No matter where you find yourself when you hear it, “Sleepless” makes you stop what you are doing and focus on this unbelievably haunting tale of complete and utter loneliness and depression in the face of that loved one that pushed you away. While Jessica Lea Mayfield’s songs usually carry an air of despair, nothing in her catalog or frankly most any artist carries the raw emotion she brings to the table. Lines like “I’m almost too lonely to speak” and “I think I’ve been left alone long enough to do something insane” cut to the core in a way that so many attempts have failed to capture. Her pristine voice, simple guitar strums and chilling steel guitar moans reflect her minimalist style that forgets the frills and goes straight for the tears.
It’s easy to write that depressing song that reflects a complete lack of hope but its another thing to avoid any traces of a cheesy over-dramatic cliche. “Sleepless” doesn’t even come close to this pitfall, as Jessica’s voice rings true. When you listen to “Sleepless” you inevitably assume that Jessica herself is in this terrible downward spiral and ask yourself what has driven her to this state. And how could you not when her lyrics and vocal inflections and styling lend this feeling of a personal cry for help, a reality that makes the song that much better.
This write-up could go on forever and I feel I wouldn’t be able to do the song justice. The song certainly speaks for itself so I’ll shut up and let you listen.
Now that your day has been completely ruined by this black cloud of misery, get yourself out of that fetal position, dry your tears and seek an emotional 180 with her song Blue Skies Again, another cut from “Tell Me” that serves as a complete antithesis to this ballad.
- Will Guerin